Chamber of Commerce Joins Private Sector Program

The I-94 West Chamber, which includes St. Michael and Albertville businesses, has joined a private-sector economic development program.

The I-94 West Chamber of Commerce has joined Grow Minnesota!, a distinctive, private-sector economic development program led by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Among its newest services is BusinessConnection, an assistance and referral network free to all Minnesota companies.

“We welcome the participation of the local chamber and look forward to a solid and continuing partnership,” said Bill Blazar, Minnesota Chamber senior vice president of public affairs and business development. “Our growing network of local chamber partners strengthens our state’s existing economic development effort by adding hundreds of additional eyes and ears, increasing our ability to address the needs of businesses in all corners of the state and to keep them growing in Minnesota.”

Grow Minnesota!, launched in 2003, has a primary focus to retain Minnesota businesses and to encourage them to expand in the state. It also is an opportunity to thank companies for doing business in Minnesota. Visits are carried out by staff and volunteers from the Minnesota Chamber and its 55 local chamber partners.

Volunteers conduct one-on-one conversations with owners and/or top management of businesses. Close to 1,000 visits were conducted during the 2010-11 program year, bringing the eight-year total to over 6,300. On average, one in seven visits has concluded with a request for some kind of assistance. That has translated into assistance for 128 companies this past year, directly affecting 4,900 Minnesota jobs. Over 800 companies have received assistance since the program started.

The program has grown steadily since its inception to now include BusinessConnection, which is intended to be a single entry point to become connected with private and public resources to solve everyday business problems. Free to all businesses, it can be reached at www.bizconnect.com or 1-888-MINN-BIZ (646-6249).

Information gleaned from visits also helps strengthen the Minnesota Chamber’s public policy agenda on behalf of the statewide business community at the Capitol.

“The findings from our visits are different from what you might see in typical surveys,” Blazar said. “The findings we deliver to policy-makers are not based on mounds of statistics, but on what businesses throughout the state are actually saying.”

The I-94 West Chamber will be selecting businesses to visit. Businesses also may contact the chamber directly at 763-428-2921 or requests@i94westchamber.org.



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